Housed in Gdańsk’s medieval Foregate building (once home to the Prison Tower and Torture Chamber), this multi-story exhibit delves extensively into the history of Baltic amber. The impressive collection of “inclusions” (when bugs or plants are caught inside the amber) is intriguing to look at, and the many amber creations, from inkwells to spoons to a stunning Fender Stratocaster guitar, shows the material’s diversity. A large open room at the top of the building houses an impressive array of modern amber jewellery that appears more artistic than wearable.
Many find the separate exhibits on the building’s past as a torture chamber uncomfortable – and considering the piped-in soundtrack of pained cries, we understand why – but they are a must-see, if for no other reason to find out what “thumb screwing” and a “heretic’s fork” are. Many of the exhibit rooms throughout the ancient building are small and cramped, and if you happen to visit on the same day as a school group it’s a nightmare.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.